In an attempt to shield the light on the new measures taken by the government to fight the spread of COVID-19, we are trying to keep a close eye on the recent precautionary measures taken by the authorities in the State of Qatar to contain the spread of COVID-19 as announced by the Supreme Crisis Management Committee of the State (the “Committee”) during the press conference held on Saturday 21 March, 2020.
A. Committee Measures
His Excellency Shaikh. Khalid Bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, has decided to ban all forms of gatherings as a major precautionary measure to combat the spread of COVID-19 throughout the State of Qatar.
The ban decision includes all forms of gatherings which include, but not limited to, the following:
1. The Corniche,
2. Public Parks,
4. Celebrations and weddings including those held at home,
6. Social gatherings,
7. Majlis, and
This ban does not include essential and necessary travel by car, bus or truck.
His Excellency has also decided to operate the following procedures to ensure people’s compliance with the gatherings ban decision:
1. Deploying mobile police patrols to ensure people’s compliance and arresting anyone who violates the said ban decision.
2. Establishing police check points across the State, and
3. Creating a dedicated hotline no. 44579999 to receive reports and complaints related to any violations to this ban decision and other decisions taken by the Committee.
Other Key Decisions
* Committee has also re-stressed on its previous decision that all pharmacies and food retail stores including restaurants will remain open as normal as well as delivery services.
* Closing all public parks and beaches until further notice.
* Ending the camping season and removing all camps no later than Wednesday 25 March 2020.
B. Ministry of Commerce and Industry Measures
Ministry of Commerce and Trade has extended the term of exchange and refund policy of goods during the whole period of closure of retail shops and malls, so that the closure period shall not be included in the statutory exchange or refund policy.
C. Qatar Central Bank Measures
The governor of Qatar Central Bank (“QCB”) issued Circular No. (5) of 2020 regarding the loans and obligations of sectors that are negatively affected by COVID-19 (the “Circular”). The Circular provides certain measures to provide financial facilities to the said sectors in an attempt to alleviate the economic consequences of COVID-19. The Circular provides the following:
* All operating banks shall postpone all due installments of loans and their related interests for sectors which are negatively affected by COVID-19 for a period of 6 months starting from 16/3/2020. Relevant sectors, if they wish to postpone the due installments, banks will be obliged to do so providing that the said sectors to pay reduced interest rates and without paying any commissions or delay fees and without affecting their credit rate.
* Dedicating a REPO window facility of QAR 50 Billion with zero% interest rate to (1) provide banks with the necessary liquidity to cover their obligations related to reducing the interest rate of insolvent clients/sectors who are affected by the negative impact of COVID-19, and (2) give loans to the said clients/sector with an interest rate that does not exceed 1.5% provided that these loans to be repriced by the end of the said 6 months starting from 16/3/2020 or ending the said facilities or upon serving a notice by the QCB, whichever is sooner.
* Removing all POS and ATM withdraw fees.
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